H&M is one of the largest clothing retailers for young people in the world and we are thrilled that the store has been expanding its plus-size line and even ran an ad campaign for bathing suits featuring plus-size model Jennie Rusk. Yet when young women like us go into our local H&M stores, we only see the clothes displayed on mannequins that reflect one mainstream version of beauty, rather than the many sizes and shapes that girls really come in. That’s why we are asking H&M to commit to using mannequins of a diverse range of sizes in their stores.
We are Anya, Montgomery, and Georgia and we are part of SPARK Movement, an international young women’s organization that works to improve the images girls see that in turn impact how we see our bodies and our place in the world. Both Anya and Georgia have survived an eating disorder and, in just the three of us, we represent the wonderful diversity of size and shapes of real girls.
We know from personal experience how it feels to walk into a store and feel like the clothes on the mannequins are not meant for us because we don’t fit into the mold the media tells us is the only definition of beauty. While the average US or Canadian woman is a size 14 and the average woman in the UK is a size 12, the average mannequin used in a store is a size 6.
There are so many girls like us who hate their bodies because they don’t see any representations of them. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that nearly 60% of elementary school girls in the US express concerns about being fat and eating disorders are a leading cause of death for 15-24 year old girls.
A shopper that can see themselves as beautiful in the clothes they want to buy is a better customer. As fans of H&M, we want to be able to walk into a store and know that our favorite store sees us as the bold, bright, brave young women we are, whose worth and beauty is not determined by what size we wear. We’re confident that not only will an introduction of plus-size mannequins better girls’ self-esteem, it will also create a stronger, healthier bond between the fashion industry and its legions of followers.
H&M has an opportunity to set a precedent by using plus-size mannequins for their new line that will show they value beauty that comes in all shapes and sizes. Please join us by signing our petition asking H&M to committo using mannequins of a diverse range of sizes in their stores.